Reggie Ragland Earns Ball Out Champ Belt

Was that Deontay Wilder, the Tuscaloosan who is heavyweight boxing champion, walking into the media center following Alabama’s Monday football practice? The belt he carried looked right. But, no. It was a heavyweight of a different sort with a new Crimson Tide football award.

Reggie Ragland, a 6-2, 260-pound senior inside linebacker, was winner of the Ball Out Champ Belt, awarded to the Alabama defensive player in a practice who is “ballin’ that day,” Ragland said. “Most strip attempts, batted balls, production points. He’s the champ.”

Ragland got it for his performance in the Crimson Tide’s first scrimmage of spring practice last Saturday. Ragland had five tackles, one tackle for loss, three pass break-ups, and a fumble recovery. One of his batted balls on a pass went off the back of one player and into the hands of Bama defensive lineman A,Shawn Robinson, who took the interception for a touchdown.

Fame is fleeting, however. Ragland said that the belt is awarded after each practice.

Ragland said the idea of the Ball Out Champ Belt came from Tide coaches. “A lot of people weren’t really stripping at the ball in the past year,” he said. “We had a bad year at (forcing) turnovers, really. So the coaches had an idea for guys to really start getting at the ball, get the ball out.

“You get it for most attemps during that day. In the scrimmage, I got the most points. I’ll probably give it back Wednesday.”

The ceremony was simple. Coach Nick Saban announced Ragland as the winner and gave him the belt. “I took it, showed it to evrybody, and just went about my day,” Ragland said.

No surprise here, Ragland said the defense got the best of Saturday’s scrimmage, but said “Overall, we had a good scrimmage as far as the young guys. The defensive coaches said not to worry about messing up, that they just wanted to see everyone being physical and tough and run to the ball. Just be crazy. A bunch of crazed dogs running to the ball and trying to get tackles.”

Ragland said the defensive line was most impressive in the scrimmage. “Every time I looked up, A’Shawn, Jaran Reed, D.J. Pettway were getting to the ball and making tackles. I got kind of frustrated. I wanted some of that love, too.”

He said he also feels “good about the corners and safeties, especially young guys like Ronnie Harrison and Deionte Thompson. Those guys showed good toughness. They were coming down, getting hits, getting interceptions.”

As would be expected, Ragland recognizes the difference for him in spring practice compared to his previous seasons. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said of his first spring. “Last year I kind of knew what to expect. But now I know what to expect. I’m just going out there, having fun, and being free, and learning and teaching the (younger) guys who don’t know what to do sometimes. I feel good out there.”

Alabama moved its Monday practice in full pads to the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility as a steady rain fell on The University of Alabama campus Wednesday afternoon. It was the Crimson Tide’s ninth practice of spring drills and the first following Friday’s scrimmage inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide will practice again on Wednesday and Friday with the second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, April 11.

Alabama’s 2015 A-Day Game is Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no admission charge.

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